TBD

TBD on Ning

Side affects of the worsening economy

Perhaps this is better phrased as a question, but since I'm hiding in the blogosphere, I'll phrase it as blog.

I was noticing my NetFlicks RSS feed on my profile page was stale and looked pretty silly. It still shows the last three movies I rented from them and returned unopened. I was curious about Jeeves & Wooster one day and added them to my request list, but by the time they came I had lost interest. I'm a fickle boy.

I cancelled my subscription after that in an effort to save money. I love being able to browse their wonderful site and review movies and actually see the covers and synapses(es?). But the economy has made me uneasy and seek alternative sources for movies.

My primary source anymore for movies is torrents (Shock!). Initially I was hesitant to snag films from online sources such as Pirate Bay due to the confusing array of choices and disorderly titling. It was difficult to determine what language a copy was in, what file type it was and if I could read it, or what all the 720/HD stuff meant. I hated to download 4 Gig and find out I couldn't view it. I also felt the need to burn them to DVD so I could watch in my player. The idea of watching on my monitor or getting a video card that ran to my TV didn't even occur to me. Several failed to burn, many were just black when I played them. One was very jumpy especially every time there was a lot of action on the screen. It ruined the immersive quality of watching a movie and soured me to the idea for a few years.

But the cost of renting at Blockbuster kept going up, and family video stores are gone from here. Blockbuster put them out of business; I'm sure they took losses in order to put pressure on the small shops. I would have been surprised if they hadn't.

My back and forth with NetFlicks began when I tired of the double drive to and from the video store and the high prices. The problem became the change of heart that takes place between queuing a film and receiving it. Additionally, I detected an annoying contrivance on their part. I realized that in many cases only the first season was available for a show I was interested in. I could watch the season and get hooked, but then I was out of luck. My cynical mind recognized what they were doing. The studios probably give or discount first seasons to NetFlicks in order to increase audience share and sell the other seasons. Netflicks is simply passing on coupons! My view of Netflicks changed from being a resource to as a marketing arm of the movie houses. That cinched it, and led to my cancellation of the service.

I later got a large TV which supported HDMI inputs. These are high-quality inputs that I noticed being touted as features on some newer video cards. There had been other configurations, but I never have liked bands of RCA cables, and S-video seemed strange, too. It really is a matter of luck and timing as to when a consumer links up two devices in their mind and sees the possibilities. For me it was HDMI that did it.

I had a larger flat screen monitor as well which made desktop viewing more reasonable. I discovered that downloads worked much better when they weren't burnt to DVD. I also found these things called codecs which made more videos work on Media Player. I switched to the Media Player Classic which ironically worked even better, and was still free. Codecs were free, too. At first I was reluctant as I feared they might be trojans or some type of virus, but they have been fine. All types of files play now. The jumpiness is mostly gone, and I can navigate the options available on line and rarely end up downloading a japanese only version. Simple things like recognizing that volumes have to be adjusted per film sometimes has reduced the frustration. I'm too used to Hollywood high quality product that is perfectly balanced on the DVD. Having to tweak it is new to me, but I'm getting used to it.

Windows 7 seems to lock up much less than Windows XP did when streaming video, and this is a great boon. What else? My behavior patterns have changed. Now I seek out content before I'm ready to sit down and watch. I am able to let things download for a night or two (or three). Drives are cheaper and I have a few 1TB drives that store many media. The diversity is a bit intoxicating once you get used to searching. Searching for movies and shows becomes an art, just as learning to browse a wall of DVDs at the video store was. The psychology of gaining product for entertainment is the key to changing the paradigm. Instant gratification and habit still lead me to almost go to the video store. But I resist now, and am saving on rentals, impulse purchases (candy, soda), gas, time, and late fees. Sorry, guys. It's the economy!

Try it! You might like it. When you understand the nature of behavioral change, you will see that many fears and misgivings about torrenting are just your natural inertia.

I still am learning. I realized yesterday that NFL games are on there, too. I just hadn't conceived of it. Now I think of a show and do a variety of searches. I'm able to weed out the pay sources like torrentreactor which tries to trick you into thinking they have something. I had even subscribed to a torrent service for a while, until I realized they had nothing that wasn't already available on a free site. Pirate Bay is theoretically gone, but seeders are still out there so I don't know why the news talks about their being defunct. minnova and isohunt work well. I read the comments more and save wasted time that way. I realized that leaving a bunch of torrent searches at 0%, waiting for seeders, reserves the entire space on your drive, so now I zap those out and free up gigs of space.

Having the right tool is important. I switched to Vuze a while ago, and it has been amazing. One powerful feature is the ability to move torrents and data dynamically. You may not realize how important this becomes until you fill a drive. uTorrent does not do this, so you are forced to change to a new directory. The old torrents, however, are disconnected from the internet and from the uTorrent interface. This is annoying when your trying to grow a library. Vuze lets you store and move torrents whereever, and it displays their location in a grid. It lets you rename the display name so you don't have to read "Obs.and.rpt.2009.divx720p.reccooldude" forever.

Big metamorphosis in thinking: I no longer hoard and collect. If I'm not going to watch a film more than once, I drop it after seeding it for a few days. I try to be a good community torrenter and not killing feeds after I complete my downloads.

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